LEO A DALY Receives National Award for Homeless Veteran Housing

American Institute of Architects recognizes LEO A DALY for innovative specialized housing for the VA; this is the firm’s second AIA national Housing Award in two years


LEO A DALY has received a national Housing Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award, in the category of Specialized Housing, recognizes the transformation of historic Building 209 on the VA’s West Los Angeles Campus into therapeutic housing for formerly homeless Veterans.

LEO A DALY provided complete architectural, and interior design services for the transformation of the 1944 former mental hospital, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places, into therapeutic residences for 65 Veterans, along with supportive facilities necessary to enable their transition to civilian life.

“We envisioned each of the private apartments as rehabilitative cocoons carved into the fabric of a historic structure. We used internal vocabulary of ‘neighborhoods’, ‘street corners’, ‘avenues’, and ‘stoops’ to generate opportunities for the residents to rebuild social skills and create an atmosphere of community,” said Michael Walden, Director of Design for LEO A DALY Los Angeles.

Support spaces including classrooms, a training kitchen, specialized bariatric units, a healing garden, and multi-purpose rooms for vocational rehabilitation, training, and substance-abuse counseling.

The exterior of the 1944 Colonial Revival building was repaired and restored through careful research and following historic preservation guidelines. Its 46,000 SF cast-in-place concrete structure was rehabilitated and seismically updated to preserve its structural integrity.

The project surpassed its sustainability goals, achieving a LEED® Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® green building program, the preeminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of high-performance green buildings.

Building 209 is now serving as a prototype for two more therapeutic housing projects currently taking place on the campus, Buildings 205 and 208, which form a quadrangle with Building 209.

“When we began this project, we knew we had the opportunity to affect in a very tangible and positive way many homeless Veterans who will see their lives transformed as they transition from Building 209 into independent living.  In a very similar way, we captured the opportunity to transform an important but underutilized historic building into the vibrant facility it is today,” said Nicos Katsellis, Director of Operations for LEO A DALY Los Angeles.

This is the fourth major design award LEO A DALY has received for Building 209. Previous honors include the 2015 Sustainable Innovation Award from the U.S. Green Building Council – Los Angeles Chapter; the 2016 John Wesley Powell Prize for Historic Preservation; the 2015 Southern California Development Forum Design Award; and a 2016 Preservation Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy. 

This is the second AIA Housing Award LEO A DALY has received in two years. In 2015 the firm received the award for La Casa, the first permanent supportive housing facility in Washington, DC, sharing it with design partner Studio Twenty Seven.

The AIA’s Housing Awards program, now in its 16th year, was established to recognize the best in housing design and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life.

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